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Waltteri Merelä records first NHL goal

Nov 2, 2023; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins (90) defends the net against Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Waltteri Merela (39) in the second period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

In his first stint with the Tampa Bay Lightning to begin the season, Waltteri Merelä was held pointless in 14 games. Was it partially bad luck? Perhaps. After all he did post a 1.27 iXG with 18 individual scoring chances and 16 shots on goal.

After a bit of a slow start to his Syracuse Crunch start, he picked things up and scored six times in 23 games, with 4 coming in his last four games. With Tanner Jeannot still on injured reserve following the Lightning’s four-day break, Merelä was recalled to take his spot in the rotation. The 25-year-old didn’t waste time getting into the scoring column.

After Dakota Mermis decided to let the puck swing by him along the boards, Conor Sheary swooped in on the free entry and made a dynamite pass to Merelä, who kept things simple by heading toward the net. He snapped a quick wrister past Filip Gustavsson for his first NHL goal (he did score 63 in the Liiga). It made the game 3-1 in favor of the Lightning at the time (which was important since the Wild would score twice more in the period).

Congrats Waltteri!

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